Infibulation is the surgical modification or mutilation of the genitals in males and females, particularly the foreskin, labia minora and labia majora. This can range from suturing to complete removal, with each done for different reasons.
Female infibulation, III female genital mutilation (FGM)—and in some African countries as "pharaonic circumcision"—is the removal of the labia minora (inner lips) and labia majora (outer lips). When the labial tissue heals, it forms a wall of skin and flesh across the vagina and the rest of the pubic area. By inserting a twig or similar before the wound heals, a small hole is created for the passage of urine and menstrual blood. The procedure is usually accompanied by the removal of the clitoris. The legs are bound together for two to four weeks to allow the labia to heal into a barrier. The procedure is usually carried out on young girls before the onset of puberty. It is a procedure conducted in several African countries, and in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It is used by practitioners to render women sexually inactive, unlikely to engage in intercourse, and the visibly intact barrier of infibulation assures a husband he has married a virgin. The barrier produced by infibulation is usually penetrated at the time of a girl's marriage by the forcible action of the penis of her husband, or by cutting the connected tissue with a knife. The procedure frequently results in organ damage, urinary incontinence, obstetric fistula, and death.
Infibulation also referred to suturing the foreskin. In ancient Greece, athletes, singers and other public performers infibulated themselves by using a clasp or string to close the foreskin and draw the penis over to one side, in a practice known as kynodesmē (literally "dog tie"). This was seen as a sign of restraint and abstinence, but was also related to concerns of modesty; in artistic representations, it was seen as obscene and offensive to show a long penis and the penis's glans in particular.